ESPN2 morning co-anchor Dana Jacobson is back at work after a week’s suspension for her drunken, foul-mouthed tirade at a public dinner.
At the beginning of the Jan. 28 program, the first since her suspension, Jacobson offered a rather cryptic apology:
I want to once again say how truly sorry I am for my poor choices and bad judgment that night. I’ve taken responsibility for what I did say and do that night.
What’s cryptic about it, of course, is the phrase "what I did say and do". Certainly no one should expect her to apologize for anything she did not do, so the use of the word ‘did’ is redundant and indeed confusing.
Evidently her intent was to imply that she did not say the most offensive thing attributed to her: "F— Jesus!"
Yet neither Jacobson nor her ESPN bosses has denied that she said it. Hence the use of the word ‘did’ is obviously intentional dissembling.
Little wonder, then, that the Christian groups prominent in the public calls for her firing are not satisfied. As the Christian Newswire reports:
After a lengthy meeting with the Christian Defense Coalition, ESPN executives will not deny that Dana Jacobson said "F–k Jesus" or a similar expression at an ESPN event.
The Coalition continues to call for ESPN to release the video tape from the event or a verbatim transcript of exactly what Jacobson said.
The Christian Newswire story then goes on to editorialize—accurately—about what ESPN’s actions in the case say about the media giant:
ESPN also confirmed that do not believe that any insensitive or discriminatory religious speech took place and that Ms. Jacobson was suspended for "her behavior" and not for anything that she said.
So, it appears that using the term "F–k Jesus" or a similar expression in the workplace by an ESPN employee does not merit suspension or discipline.
The story quotes Christian Defense Coalition Director the Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney as saying, "over and over again in our discussion with them, ESPN made it clear that Ms. Jacobson was not fired for her speech or comments she made. She was disciplined only for her behavior. In other words, ESPN does not believe any offensive or discriminatory religious language took place."
In her on-air apology, Jacobson made an interesting universal moral statement:
Mistakes do not define us. It’s how we respond to those mistakes that does. I hope you forgive me, and allow my future to define me.
I hope that Ms. Jacobson will not be overly disappointed if few of us take her up on her exceedingly kind offer to serve as a moral guidepost.